§ Sir Ivan Lawrence
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the role of the European Court of Justice in future third pillar conventions; and what conclusions the Government have reached regarding the role of the court in relation to the conventions on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests and on the use of information technology for customs purposes. 
§ Mr. Howard
The Government's policy on the role of the European Court of Justice in respect of conventions negotiated under the third pillar of the treaty on European Union is to consider each case on its merits. But we and our European Union partners recognised in agreeing to the protocol to the Europol convention that the best way forward in that case lay in a flexible formula under which member states could choose whether to make a declaration that they were prepared to accept the jurisdiction of the court to give preliminary rulings as to the interpretation of the convention on the basis of references by their national courts. As regards the role of the ECJ in the conventions on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests and on the use of information technology for customs purposes, the Government have concluded that they can agree to a flexible solution on similar lines to that in the Europol convention protocol.
Accordingly, we shall signal our agreement to the draft protocols for this purpose prepared by the Irish presidency, which would enable member states to make a declaration accepting ECJ jurisdiction to give preliminary rulings as to the interpretation of these conventions on the basis of references by national courts. We shall make it clear that it would not be the United Kingdom's intention to make such a declaration in respect of our own courts.